For four Thursdays in October, Valkyrie Anderson, a French one and two teacher at Mount De Sales Academy, showed up at Tatnall Square Park to learn the dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Those there were preparing for a ghoulish night of fun and dancing at the Zombie Thriller Dance, an annual Halloween dance party that takes place in downtown Macon. The practices were an hour long and led by Pilar Wilder, the director and owner of Hayiya Dance Theatre located on Vineville Avenue in Macon. Students from Miller Middle School also came to help out. Their goal was to replicate the entire 14 minute music video by the King of Pop. The dancers learned one piece of choreography per week, and by week two or three, the group of zombies-to-be knew the whole “Thriller” dance.
This was Anderson’s first year participating in the zombie thriller dance, which started at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, October 28th. However, before the actual performance at 9:00 p.m., a dance party began at 8:00 p.m. This Zombie Dance has happened now for six years. 11th Hour, one of the sponsors, actually initiated the event for the first time six years ago. People of all ages and from all over Macon are welcome to participate, provided that they attend three out of the four practices, said Jessica Thompson, an intern at Hayiya Dance Theatre. Last year, the Zombie Thriller Dance boasted over one hundred dancers and even more onlookers. They gather every year in front of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame on Cherry Street to put on a “thrilling” performance. Oh, and it’s completely free.
Hayiya Dance Theatre, NewTown Macon and 11th hour all sponsored the event last Friday night. The event garnered large crowd from young to old. Families all gathered at the Cherry Street plaza to watch the dancers put on a frightening show. There were also other games and performances happening that night. Anderson came with a few of her students from school, all of whom dressed in zombie attire, complete with authentic-looking living-dead make up. They weren’t the only ones. Zombie Drew Aiken, who was an onlooker rather than a dancer, was impressed by the effort everyone put into their costumes. “If you described it in one word, it would be ‘cool.’ The zombie dancers were impressive, and it looked like they practiced a lot,” Aiken commented.
Anderson said that her first year was “awesome,” and a lot of zombies had danced multiple times. There were a great many zombie dancers, and even more audience members who dressed up as well. While “zombie” was the dominant costume, not all of those in the audience dressed as zombies. There was a genie, a bumblebee, an adorable baby skunk, multiple other costumes and many people in regular clothes. Camera flashes abounded as people snapped photos with their friends, and even with strangers in interesting, crazy, or cool outfits. A DJ played music, and everyone milled about, chatted and even danced the night away at the dance party that followed the performance. Overall, it was a truly “thrilling” night, one that would have made the King of Pop proud.